Accessibility statement

Eleanor Green


Unlocking the genetic potential of museum storerooms

Supervisors: Dr. Nathan Wales, Dr. Jessica Hendy, Professor Ian Barnes

Funding: WRoCAH CDA award partnered with the Natural History Museum London. Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grants

My PhD thesis looks to explore the missed opportunities for genetic research hidden within museum collections. The aim of the project is to maximise the data gathered from specimens often treated and conserved in very different ways to recently excavated material using metagenomics and proteomics. 

My work with the Natural History Museum is focused on a collection of historical recovered human craina from the River Thames. Using low depth DNA sequencing I am building a biography of 30 individuals who died near the River Thames. 

I am using ancient DNA and proteomics to investigate coprolites, or palaeofaeces, from various early medieval European sites with particular focus on the characterisation of the gut microbiome and dietary resources. This work is supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation.


I began studying at the University of York back in 2012 and since then I have gained a BSc (first class with hons) and a MSc (distinction) in Bioarchaeology. During my Masters year I was given the opportunity to conduct a research project on ancient DNA which I recovered from ~1000 year old dog coprolites. This first spurred my interest in ancient DNA and I have been lucky enough to continue in this field for my PhD project.


​​Fellows Yates, J.A., Andrades Valtueña, A., Vågene, Å.J., Cribdon, B., Velsko, I.M., Borry, M., Bravo-López, M.J., Fernandez-Guerra, A., Green, E.J., Ramachandran, S.L., Spyrou, M.A., Hübner, A., Gancz A.S., Hider, J., Allshouse, A.F., Zaro, V. & Warinner, C. (2021) Community-curated and standardised metadata of published ancient metagenomic samples with AncientMetagenomeDir. Scientific Data 8, 31;

Shillito, L., Blong, J. C., Green, E. J., & Van Asperen, E. (2020) The what, how and why of archaeological coprolite analysis. Earth-Science Reviews, 207;

Bas, M., Salemme, M., Green, E.J., Santiago, F., Speller, C., Álvarez, M., Briz i Godino, I., and Cardona, L. (2020) Predicting habitat use by the Argentine hake Merluccius hubbsi in a warmer world: inferences from the Middle Holocene. Oecologia 193, 461-474;

Green, E.J. and Speller, C.F., (2017). Novel substrates as sources of ancient DNA: prospects and hurdles. Genes 8(7);

Conferences & Awards

Conference Presentations

Podium presentations:

Green, E. J. Ancient DNA: what, why and how?, Natural History Museum Student Conference, London 2 – 3 March 2020.

Green, E. J., Prentiss, A. and Speller, C. Give a Dog a Bone, Association for Environmental Archaeology Conference, Sheffield, 29 Nov – 1 Dec 2019.

Green, E. J. Big Data Archaeology, Northern Bioinformatics User Group, Hull, 9 Sept 2019.

Green, E.J., Wales, N., Barnes. I. and Speller, C. London Through the Ages: A Genetic Investigation of the Thames Skull Collection, UK Archaeological Science (UKAS) conference, Manchester, 24 – 26 April 2019.

Poster presentations:

Green, E.J., Arthur, N., Bonney H., Speller C., Barnes I. and Wales N. Dredging up genomes: leveraging submerged human remains to understand life and death around the River Thames. The 9th International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology (ISBA9), Virtual, 1 – 4 June 2021

Green, E.J., Wales, N., Barnes. I. and Speller, C. The Genetic Story of the Thames Skulls, Natural History Museum Student Conference, London, 4 – 5 March 2019

Yang, D., Rodrigues, A., Prentiss, A., Green, E. J., and Speller, C. An archaeological investigation into the genetic and dietary histories of dogs at the Bridge River Site, BC, Society for American Archaeology Annual Conference, Vancouver, Canada, 29 Mar - 2 April, 2017


Dredging up genomes (poster) was awarded the International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology public vote for Best Poster in June 2021. 

My project Reconstructing the relationship between ancient microbiomes, urbanisation and diet: A bioarchaeological investigation of coprolites was awarded funding by the Wenner-Gren Foundation (Grant number: 9999) in 2020.

Ancient DNA: what, why and how? (podium presentation) was awarded the Natural History Museum Student Conference public vote for Best Podium Presentation in 2020.

Viking Dinners (public outreach project) was awarded the Linnean Society Student Public Engagement Award in 2020.

After working as a seminar leader for Accessing Archaeology for the 2018/2019 cohort I was nominated for Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year in the University of York Excellence Awards.

My Masters thesis, Give a dog a bone: Investigating the potential of studying prehistoric dogs via the ancient DNA analysis of canid coprolites from Bridge River, British Columbia, Canada, was awarded the John Evans Dissertation Prize by the Association for Environmental Archaeology in 2016.

Teaching & Impact

I have worked for the department as a seminar leader and assessment marker on the first year modules Accessing Archaeology, Prehistory to the Present and Introduction to Archaeological Sciences. I acted as the GTA representative in 2019 and continue to work as an Admissions Assistant for the department. Additionally I have worked in a number of capacities with local schools and colleges for the University of York Widening Participation Scheme. 

My employment as one of the Jorvik Viking Center vikings encouraged my interest in public engagement. As a result of this I regularly take part in various festivals such as YorNight and the Festival of Ideas. In 2020 I acted as York City Coordinator for Pint of Science which was suddenly changed into an online event which I produced. I have developed a primary school workshop called Viking Dinners which was awarded funding by the Linnean Society. I was invited to speak to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society (YPS), as a result I have written a piece on “Community, cesspits and coprolites” which will be published in the bicentenary annual report of the YPS (2022).


Contact details

Eleanor Green
University of York
Department of Archaeology
King's Manor
Exhibition Square